Court Tells FDA No More Delay on Antibiotic Ban Proceedings

Court Tells FDA No More Delay on Antibiotic Ban Proceedings

August 10th, 2012 // 3:11 pm @

The FDA’s appeal earlier this summer – essentially to escape responsibility from regulating antibiotic overuse in animals – ­faced a major blow yesterday when a federal court in New York decided the agency cannot avoid its duties any longer.

Way to go, judge!

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), along with fellow environmental and public health groups Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS), filed a lawsuit against FDA last year urging the agency to follow-up on its 35-year-old proposal to ban penicillin and tetracyclines used in livestock. These drugs are commonly used to treat human illness, but their reduction in effectiveness (due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria) has been linked to their non-therapeutic use on animals that are consumed by the American public.

From NRDC:

The court action 1) ensures that action is not delayed further until after the resolution of an appeal by FDA of the court’s original decision to mandate these proceedings and 2) imposes a deadline for the completion of the proceedings (thereby rejecting FDA’s arguments that a schedule was not needed). FDA will have approximately five years to complete proceedings.

This court decision comes at a much needed time, as it remains difficult to hold the meat and poultry industries accountable. The FDA has only pushed industries to voluntarily reduce their reliance on antibiotics (a most unpromising tactic). All the while, whistleblower protections for both meat industry workers and USDA veterinarians remain woefully inadequate.

Given this current unfortunate setting (not to mention frequent bills popping up throughout the country seeking to criminalize agriculture whistleblowers), the court’s message for FDA to get going on this issue is a sight for sore eyes.

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